Nepal sets date with destiny

November 17th, 2008 - 4:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Nov 17 (IANS) Seven months after holding a historic election that laid down the foundation of peace in insurgency-wracked Nepal, the new Himalayan republic has now set a new date with destiny in mid-May 2010, when for the first time elected lawmakers will write a pro-people constitution.Nepal’s newly elected constituent assembly has set the time-table for the new constitution, that was the centrepiece of the peace agreement signed between the Maoist guerrillas and main political parties after the fall of king Gyanendra’s army-backed government.

By May 2010, Nepal will have its seventh constitution in place, replacing the current interim constitution that was promulgated last year.

The first constitution was implemented under the rule of the hereditary Rana prime ministers in 1948, who held absolute sway reducing the Shah kings to mere puppets.

Since then, the Shahs and the Ranas grappled for power with the latter being ousted after a pro-democracy movement in 1950.

History repeated itself in Nepal four decades later when the absolute power of the Shah kings too was curtailed due to a second pro-democracy movement.

Then came a royal coup in 2005 whose fallout, however, made king Gyanendra lose his ancestral throne a year later and saw an interim constitution put into place that paved the way for the transformation of the Hindu kingdom into a secular republic.

The 2010 constitution, which will provide for a federal democratic republic where all previously ignored ethnic communities would be equally represented, is expected to bring lasting peace to Nepal and economic transformation.

Efforts began Monday to implement the new time-table with the announcement of a new election.

The constituent assembly Monday issued a notice announcing that the vice-chairman of the house would be elected on Nov 28 if the parliamentary parties failed to reach a consensus.

The draft of the new constitution will have to be completed in 82 weeks after which it would be subject to a public debate as well as discussion in the house.

The drafting would be undertaken by 14 committees and finally, in 2010, the revised draft would be promulgated by President Dr Ram Baran Yadav in the name of the people.

However, given the continued infighting between the main parties and delay in implementing every project, it remains to be seen if the time-table would be kept.

Also, as critics point out, even the best constitution will remain a piece of paper unless the government has the will to implement it.

Dozens of agreements made by the Maoists and other major parties are yet to be executed even two years after the signing of the peace pact.

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